Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Meanwhile, in Varisia

My home game, involving my wife and kids, feels like it is at an inflection point.

The players have just finished Raging Swan's "Dark Oak", and next session will get their xp/gp totals and head back to Magnimar. I'm planning to run Dawn of the Scarlet Sun for them next, now that they're high enough level to not be completely destroyed by the opponents there. After that short adventure, I'm intending to send them to Osirion (Pathfinder's "Egypt") to do some pyramid dungeon crawling in Entombed with the Pharaohs. (Despite it's title, it's not a rehash of the old Lovecraft tale by the same name.)

The thing is, there's also the pirate-themed Skull and Shackles adventure path, and at least one player is itching to switch to that one.

I still think the "eclectic" campaign we started with has a lot of life in it, but I'm torn between giving them classic dungeon crawls or going for a more story-driven approach. My wife would be just as happy hacking apart hydras for extra cash as she is rescuing kidnapped children from monstrous fates, but I'm not sure what my kids want more. They're young enough that I can't get too sophisticated or dark with the plot without losing them, but classic illogical hack-n-slash dungeons like I played when I was a kid are not only hard to come by for Pathfinder, but seem greatly out of favor "culturally" these days.

In the end, I should probably just ask them - do they prefer having more story or more combat?

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Traveller Tuesday - Task System Redux

So today's game showed that I'm not up to adjudicating a very complicated ad-hoc skill system.

Classic Traveller has what appears at first to be a pretty arbitrary system for assigning difficulty to various task related throws. This is compounded by the fact that the rules essentially tell the GM to "make something up" if it's not in the rules.

The system I'd been using is based on the concept of "Throw less than STAT, with DMs for skills and situation", combined with the standard skill "Throw X+ to succeed".

However, throwing low sometimes and high other times is just confusing, so instead, I'm going with a very slightly tweaked version of "Rule 68A". The name comes from the hexadecimal values 6+, 8+ and 10+, which are the target throws for Easy, Average, Hard under this system.

The one tweak I'm making, which I might decide to not bother with, relates to UPP statistics. If a character's stat is relevant to the task AND it is equal to the task's target or better, then DM+1. If the stat is less than half the target, then DM-1. This nicely echoes the weapon "advantageous stat" system, and I think meshes with the flavor of CT nicely.

And that's pretty much it.

There's also the matter of CT's combat system conflating armor with ease of being hit. I think I'll leave that one alone for now, even though it means that in many cases a shot can't miss. I do like the idea of making two attack rolls, one with the range DM and one with the armor DM, and both have to hit to cause damage, but I'm not sure if people would go for it. Though it would solve some problems, and would reduce the "can't miss" cases to "if you hit, they're gonna feel it" cases. That's a thought for another day.

Traveller Tuesday for 9/25

<Picking up with the party in the Reception area>

While investigating the reception area, a swarm of what appeared to be Gadden’s rat-equivalent creatures swarmed the party. They seemed afraid of the light, but (amazingly) their hunger drove them to attack. A few rounds of shotgun, SMG, Rifle and Pistol fire reduced the swarm to a messy puddle of blood and pseudorat meat. Two characters got bitten (nasty little critters), but the wounds were not serious enough to cause any lasting trouble, and after a quick bit of first-aid, everyone was ready to go. The “rats” looked to be escaped experiment animals (tags, chemical shunts, shaved patches, etc.) but seemed unusually muscular specimins.

The players decided to make their way to the bridge, going past the galley area on the way. The few staterooms they passed seemed mostly unused; one of them was a small meeting room with some notes about the research. A character downloaded the notes to her handcomp for later, just in case.

In the galley (completely dark due to smashed light fixtures), the scout character spotted a figure over by the meat locker using his infra-red goggles. That person ducked into the locker and warned the characters away, mentioning something about “the enemy” and some other nonsensical fear-induced ranting. The ex-army bruiser entered the locker and closed the door behind him, at which point he and the mystery person began to fist fight. The mystery person was fiendishly tough though, and the ex-army guy took a pretty solid blow to the head. Still conscious, he tried to break away from the mystery person, and was aided in his excape by the timely opening of the door by the rest of the party. The mystery person recoiled in fear from the party’s flashlights, and the ex-scout netted him

Now that there is some light on him, the person appears to be a crewmember, though somewhat “hulked out” and very dirty/bloody/smelly. It also appears that he’s been eating some of the other people on the station, and had been using one of their arms as a cudgel.

Tune in next week, when the characters attempt to subdue the crewman and hopefully get some answers.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Tomorrow's Traveller Game

Tomorrow is the second session of the office lunch-hour Traveller game, based on Classic Traveller rules and the "Death Station" adventure, both from around 1981.

The players, who are using characters from the provided pre-generated characters in the adventure, are down-and-out Travellers, stuck on a company owned mining colony with growing debt and shrinking futures. An executive from a research company on planet for somewhat nebulous purposes has proposed a deal with them - a lab ship in orbit is not checking in on schedule, and the characters are to travel up to the ship to see what's going on. If their is anything going on requring them to help out in a significant way, the executive will pay off their company debt and supply them with passage off world. If not, hey, at least they get out of the mines for a few days.

Last session, the characters used and air/raft and some vacc suits to rendezvous with the lab ship in orbit. After some investigation, they discovered that they could board the spinning ship through its docked boat - a 40 ton small craft usually used to collect biological samples on the planet's surface. The session left them aboard the "Carl Sagan", standing in the lobby and wondering where all the crew is.

I suspect next session to begin with the players going door to door down the ring of the ship (effectively a long corridor with limited "horizon" visibility), slowly discovering that things are not ok on board the ship, and that they are not alone....

(The best part is, the problem's not what they think it is)

Hello, it's me.

After being, um, "politely informed" by some friends that G+ was not the correct venue to discuss the intricacies of my various gaming activities, I've decided to start up a blog.

So, "hDan" is me - an old handle I've used since back in the BBS days. Sadly yes, I'm that old.
"YAGB" is of  course "Yet Another Gaming Blog". Not very creative, but at least it's a 4CC and not a TLA.

The sorts of gaming I will be talking about are RPGs and miniature wargaming, often with an historical twist.

Though I love miniature wargaming, lately it seems I've done considerably more "thinking about" and "preparing for" than actually playing. I still consider myself a miniatures gamer, though it seems I have less and less evidence to support that assertion. Still, when I do play, I mostly like to play games like "Chain Reaction" and "DBA". I've recently acquired "Dux Bellorum", which seems like it would be right up my alley. Maybe I'll even get to play it some day.

For RPGs, I mainly play Dungeons&Dragons 4th Edition with friends, Pathfinder (which is a close cousin to D&D 3.5 Edition) at home, and Traveller (both "Classic Traveller" and "Mongoose Traveller") with anyone who is willing to play.

At the moment, I'm in three active RP games. I'm fortunate enough to have a job where many of my coworkers are also avid gamers, and I'm in two active lunchtime games. One is a long running D&D 4e campaign in which I'm playing a cleric. Sort of amusing, since I'm not really that into clerics, but I'm enjoying myself none the less.

The other game is a Traveller game I have just started. We're running Traveller as a "one shot" adventure, using "Death Station" as the scenario. I expect the game to run maybe 3-4 more sessions, then we'll see if people are interested in more. One of the beauties of Traveller is that it is so simple to create characters that it really lends itself to doing one-off adventures, and people don't mind as much when their characters die. Which in Traveller, happens a lot. Sometimes even during character creation.

Enough prologue. What you can expect to see here is thoughts on various games, small reviews, "house rules" ideas, and RPG session reports. I don't plan to put any sort of political or personal thoughts here, aside from maybe "Carthage Rules, Rome Drools" type nonsense.

We'll see if I keep this one up better than some of my older attempts, such as mindsay.